_ I first met Mike “Tater” Haviland about 10 years ago while on a Kansas whitetail hunt with good friend Brad Harris. Back then Tater was shooting video for Lohman Game Calls. All the hunters in camp took an instant liking to the youngster for both his enthusiasm and knowledge of hunting giant deer. Well, that knowledge paid off in spades last fall when Tater hammered a Kansas giant with enough trash on his head to surpass the 200-inch mark. Here’s Tater’s tale…
After about 3 hours on the road toward north-central Kansas, I received word that I wasn’t going to be able to hunt a piece of property as planned on the Kansas opener. However, I wasn’t too concerned. I have had quite a bit of luck hunting on the various WIHA (Walk-In Huntng Areas) the state has to offer.
My friend, Brian Godfrey, and I decided to take time on the opening morning to do some scouting. We were excited when we found a piece of property with a lot of fresh sign and spotted a nice 10-point in a bottom. However, after hunting the first afternoon and the second morning without seeing one deer, we felt it was time to make a change.
We called a local landowner after lunch and he granted us permission to hunt his 160-acre parcel for a couple of days. The plan was to meet him after lunch and he would show us the property line. After visiting with him, we learned that he was a hunter also and he had spotted a couple of 8-pointers the previous evening. He gave us the low-down on the property and without hesitating Brian and I decided to quickly unload our gear and set up close to a pond overlooking a some cedar thickets.
About a half-hour before dark we spotted three does headed our way. They knew something was up when they approached within 40 yards of our blind. As they were giving us the eagle eye, I noticed the rear doe kept looking behind her, down in the bottom near the closest thicket. I was fairly certain there was a buck in the area, but would he be a “shooter?” After playing peek-a-boo with the does for 15 minutes, they finally returned to the thicket. Now, any hopes that I had of laying my eyes on a Kansas monster had vanished. We were about to call it quits, when, out of the bottom ran a doe with a nice buck hot on her trail. She stopped on the other side of the pond and he stopped and started making a rub while facing away from us.
One look through my binocular was all I needed to determine that he was a great buck. All I had to do was wait for a broadside shot and I would have my hands on a 160-inch, 10-pointer, at least that’s what I thought. After about 2 minutes he started to walk to the right, toward his doe, I bleated at him, and he stopped for a perfect shot at 160 yards. He dropped in his tracks.
When I walked up to him I about passed out. At the moment I pulled the trigger I didn’t realize Brian and I had harvested a 200-inch monster! After a closer look, he ended up having 16 scorable points and measured out at 208 1/8. I have to say thanks to my dad, Troy Haviland, for sharing with me his love of hunting and Brian Godfrey for sharing this experience with me. It was truly the hunt of a lifetime.